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Estate planning for New Jersey pet owners

A recent article highlights the need to make arrangements for the care of any pets in the event the owner dies. The discussion outlines the elements of an informal arrangement, but the same considerations can lead to a legally binding estate planning document. New Jersey pet owners have the ability to provide for their pets in the aftermath of the owner's death.

The first consideration is who will be trusted to take care of the pets. For many people, the choice of a pet trustee is just as important as choosing a guardian for their children. Issues such as pet care, feeding and housing are typically involved. It may help if the person designated has a like-minded approach to the care of any pets they may already own. For example, it would not make much sense to choose a person whose animals live outdoors to take care of an indoor animal.

Any special requirements a pet may have need to be kept on a consistently updated list. This ensures that the animal's veterinary, dietary and other needs are maintained once the owner passes away. This information should be kept either somewhere easily located or in a location known to the pet trustee.

These arrangements can be handled informally but may have no weight if the owner passes. Not only will a pet trust officially appoint a trustee, but it can also outline certain requirements for the pet's care. Another advantage of a pet trust is that it can be funded to provide the trustee with the money necessary to care for the pets.

It is recommended that an estate plan be reviewed periodically to be sure it is up-to-date. The same can be said when it comes to estate planning for New Jersey pets. Many feel it is as big a responsibility to agree to care for someone's pets as it is to agree to care for their children. Unfortunately, people sometimes change their minds, move away or even pass away. A periodic review can address these issues as they arise.

Source: catster.com, Who Will Take Care of My Cats When I'm Gone?, Catherine Holm, Dec. 11, 2013

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